Palm Celebrates Pilot’s Tenth Anniversary

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Time flies when you’re having fun&helips;or when you’re staring at a washed-out LCD screen trying to figure out if you need to go to an appointment or whether you’ve already missed it.

Ten years ago, Palm Inc. introduced its first Pilot handheld mobile computer, successfully launching a market for portable PDAs that most analysts thought Apple had proven wasn’t viable with the spectacularly expensive flop of its Newton Messagepad. Yet the $299 Palm Pilot took off, mostly due to the ease of use of its built-in calendaring, scheduling, and contact applications, as well as its ability to (usually) synchronize information with a host computer at the touch of a button.

Palm sold one million Pilots in the products first 18 months (an adoption rate exceeding even the microwave oven), and has gone on to sell more than 34 million Palm devices, including over 3 million smartphones. Although industry analysts have been predicting the demise of the PDA as a category distinct from smartphones and other data devices (and, despite the success of Treo smartphones, Palm’s sales haven’t been overwhelming for a while) there’s no denying the company managed to create and lead a new category of technology which has helped define the last decade, particularly for on-the-go professionals who rely on mobile computing solutions.